Looking for link building opportunities in your competitor’s backlinks is a time-tested SEO process. If you don’t know what kinds of links you can build to your website, one of the best places to start looking is in your competitor’s backlink profile. The Backlinks report has helpful sorting, filtering, and exporting functions to make this process easy.
Chances are your competitors will have backlinks from media sites, blogs, or other relevant websites in your niche. If you see multiple links to a competitor site coming from the same domain, you can infer that there is some form of partnership or relationship between the websites.
Think about how these links were built with a PR mindset. Was there outreach involved? Did your competitor release a new product, service, or press release that attracted the links? Was there a marketing strategy that targeted these links? These are the questions you’ll have to ask yourself as you look through their backlinks for opportunities you can try to replicate for your website.
If your competition has a huge amount of links, it can be hard to know what to look for. Backlinks research is investigative work, so we built out a full set of filters and sorting to help you find the backlinks you’re looking for without having to waste time combing through spreadsheets.
After filtering, you can export an Excel or CSV file with rows of backlinks and their respective metrics.
Reading Your Report
At the top of the report, you’ll see an overview of the queried domain's total backlinks. Click on the number of referring domains, referring IPs, or Backlink TYpes or Link Attributes to jump to a deeper report or filtered report.
Below, all of the domain's backlinks will be listed in a table. Each backlink is shown with the page score, trust score, the page title of the backlink, Source URL (the page the link was found on) and the Target URL (the landing page of the link).
If there is no anchor text found, this column will be blank. In the last column, you’ll see the option to start building a disavow list for backlinks that you want to remove your association to. More of this action can be done with the Backlink Audit Tool.
With every backlink in our database, you can evaluate the following:
- Page Score - A metric that measures the importance of the source page based on a number of the external links pointing to it.
- Trust Score - A metric that measures the trustworthiness of the source page based on the number of backlinks from trusted sites pointing to it.
- Anchor Text - The text of the hyperlink.
- External Links - Links on the source URL pointing to other websites.
- Internal Links - Links on the source URL pointing to other pages of its website.
- Type - If the link is a special type such as a form, frame, or image link.
- First Seen - Date that SEMrush first saw the backlink.
- Last Seen - Most recent date that SEMrush saw the backlink.
- Disavow - This button lets you add links to a disavow list to remove them from your profile. More on this below.
By taking a look at the “first seen” and “last seen” dates, you can estimate the age of a backlink. To check out the source page where we found the backlink, click on the source URL in the table. This action opens up a preview window with the page’s page score and trust score listed at the top. You’ll see that SEMrush will automatically scroll to the link and highlight it in yellow so you can quickly see exactly where the link was placed.
The Table Settings gear is able to adjust the display of page titles and URLs in the table. This won’t change the data in the report at all, but it can make it easier to read if your backlinks come from pages with long titles or URLs.
The quick filters available in this report include links by ref. Domain (to filter for domains sending a larger amount of links), follow vs no follow links, type (text, image, frame, form) and new and lost. Filters can be combined to focus on exactly what it is you want to analyze about your competitor’s backlinks.
Links per ref. Domain
These filters will display no more than selected number of links per referring domain.
So in case where you have only one link from each referring domain, this filter returns the same result for every option.
For example: Say you have 3 total referring domains. The 1st domain has 1 link to your domain, the 2nd domain has 100 links to your domain and 3rd domain has 5 links to you domain:
- Option All will show: 1 link from 1st domain, 100 links from 2nd domain, 5 links from 3rd domain
- Option 1 will show: 1 link from 1st domain, 1 link from 2nd domain, 1 link from 3rd domain
- Option 3 will show: 1 link from 1st domain, 3 links from 2nd domain, 3 links from 3rd domain
- Option 10 will show: 1 link from 1st domain, 10 links from 2nd domain, 5 links from 3rd domain
Opening Advanced Filters gives you more options when filtering for specific backlinks. This option lets you search for backlinks by anchor text, referring domain, new & lost, sitewide, IP address, and zone. Multiple advanced filters can be applied at once to gather the most granular data that you’re looking for.
Please note: At this time, searching by anchor is only available for domains with under one hundred million backlinks.
As mentioned above, you can combine filters to get deeper insights from your research. To get started, here’s a list of suggested filters to find competitive insights in the backlinks report:
- Find your competitor’s most recently built links by combining New and Follow filters
- Find topical anchor texts your competitor acquired with the anchor partial match auto-suggest filter
- See if you’ve lost more than one link from the same domain by combining the Referring Domain and Lost filters
- See your competitor’s top partnerships with the Sitewide filter
- Find websites sending “nofollow” links to your site and reach back out to them with a request to change the attribute to “follow” or acquire a new link with the follow attribute.
At any point before or after adding filters, you can export the data to a CSV or excel file to save your research. Exporting after applying filters will export the backlinks listed in the table according to your filters. To save your research, export your list of backlinks to excel or CSV file with the export button above the table.
Your export file will have all of the data based on your filters, allowing you to export specific lists based on your parameters and save room in your export limits. Every row exported in a backlink analytics export will count towards your Analytics limits (see our prices page or go to your subscription info page to check your account limits).
If you would like to export more rows than your account limits allow for, please contact us and request a custom report. After contacting us, an account specialist will listen to you explain the details of your request and offer a quote.
Creating a Disavow File
In addition to studying your competitor’s links to look for link building opportunities, you can use Backlinks Analytics to study your own backlinks and add suspicious links to a disavow list. As you go through your list of backlinks, simply hit the icon in the “disavow” column to add the URL or domain to your disavow list.
After compiling a disavow list, you can send the list to Google as a request to remove your website’s association with the links. This action helps prevent the risk of a Google Penalty. The Backlink Audit tool (found in Projects) offers complete interfacing for the auditing of your backlink profile and disavowing harmful links. From the Disavow list menu, you can upload this list directly into your Backlink Audit or export it to a .TXT file to send to Google’s disavow tool.